Four candidates are bidding to be the Hampshire and Isle of Wight police and crime commissioner (PCC) when residents go to the polls tomorrow (Thursday, May 2).

PCCs are elected representatives who hold police forces and chief constables to account, and decide how much residents pay towards policing through their council tax.

Throughout the four-year term, the role includes publishing a police and crime plan, which involves consulting with the public on their priorities and then detailing how they aim to address these issues.

Ahead of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight PCC election we asked the four candidates 10 questions to provide an insight into their policies and personality.

Below, Liberal Democrat’s Prad Bains discusses fighting for fairing funding, abolishing the role of PCCs and his admiration for David Attenborough. The other candidates are Don Jerrard (The Justice and Anti-Corruption Party), incumbent Donna Jones (Conservative) and Becky Williams (Labour).

Why should people care about the PCC election?

It’s an opportunity for Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents to have their say on the oversight of policing in our area. It’s a chance for residents to decide whether or not they think the £3 million of taxpayer’s money currently being spent on running the PCC’s Hampshire office, could be better spent.

I want the money to be spent on reversing the decline in police numbers and getting more boots on the ground to prevent and help solve more crimes.

What are the biggest challenges facing the constabulary in the next four years?

One of the biggest challenges is having enough police officers on the streets to deal with crime. The cutting of 1,000 Hampshire police officers from 2010 to 2020 has created a multitude of issues.

Recruiting and retaining officers and reversing the decline in police numbers is a challenge faced by the constabulary. With our ambition of a return to more community policing and in turn more visible policing, combined with a fairer funding formula for our force, will ensure we get more boots on the ground in our communities.

Does Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary have enough police officers and what should the priorities be for the force?

No. In 2010 we had 3,830 police officers in Hampshire, today we have 3,403 – this is 427 less officers. There are also 23 per cent fewer PCSO’s than we had in 2019, with numbers still falling.

This is why I would fight for fairer funding for our force who are one of the worst funded forces in the country, and I’d work to reverse the decline in police numbers, introducing more community police officers, who would be able to help prevent and solve more crimes.

What do you see as the most important function of the police and crime commissioner position?

Having concentrated power in the hands of one person as the PCC is something I don’t agree with, the current system needs to be changed in order to represent the views of different communities across Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Replacing PCCs with accountable local police boards is a much much cheaper option, giving scrutiny of policing to local police boards who know their respective areas and the policing issues in them, the best. After all this is about policing, not politics.

The police and crime commissioner is a political role. How much political experience do you have?

I served a four-year term as a Havant borough councillor, during which I was a ward councillor, leader of the opposition, deputy mayor and mayor of Havant. I am currently serving as a Hampshire county councillor and have been selected as the Lib Dem police and crime commissioner candidate for Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

What is or was your day job outside of politics?

Most recently I have worked in the charity sector, helping to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of mental health services for different communities within Hampshire.

This has led to real improvements, ensuring that individuals from all communities feel that they can access mental health services in a more equal, inclusive and accessible way.

What is the one top achievement you would like to deliver if elected as PCC?

To help abolish the role of the PCC, returning policing back to the professionals, saving Hampshire and Isle of Wight taxpayers £3 million a year in the process.

What crime blights people’s lives the most and how can it be tackled?

During my campaign, I’ve spoken to residents across Hampshire and Isle of Wight and anti-social behaviour (ASB) is something that continues to come up in conversations. ASB issues contribute towards some people feeling uncomfortable being out in the community through fear of these issues.

During my time as a retained firefighter, I saw ASB issues in the local community firsthand and fully understand that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with better through more visible policing and a return to more community policing, to ensure all residents feel safe in their community.

Should Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents expect to pay more towards policing every year and why?

People pay a lot in tax, but it all goes off to Westminster and not enough comes back here. The Home Office needs to fund policing in a better, more appropriate way and make policing more of a priority.

We will fight for fairer funding for our force who are one of the worst funded forces in the country, due to the current policing national funding formula. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight force are around £41.6 million worse off than is needed and this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Home Office urgently.

And lastly, who is your role model in life?

David Attenborough. His dedication to the protection of our planet has been a source of inspiration to me and through his education, I have learnt so much about the role we can all play in helping to protect and care for our planet. His values and ambitions motivate me even more in wanting to play my small part every single day.

Candidate Don Jerrard (The Justice and Anti-Corruption Party) did not respond to the invitation to contribute to the Hampshire PCC Q&A.